Is Brazil’s loss to Germany the most embarrassing sports defeat ever?


Brazil was embarrassed by Germany.

In their 7-1 World Cup semifinal defeat, an entire country’s soccer dreams were more than shattered, they were brutally murdered without regard for the emotions of a country already suffering.

The defeat was so bad, the winning team felt the need to apologize to the host nation.

The defeat was so bad, the fans turned on their beloved team, hurling the only thing handy at the team bus as it traveled through Belo Horizonte – oranges.

But where does this rank all-time? We’ve explored other embarrassing, shocking, and humiliating World Cup defeats. But in the context of sports, where does this stand?

First, it’s important to remember, we’re not ranking upsets or surprising victories. Germany is a machine, and according to many, Die Mannschaft was the favorite to win today. Just because a game results in an upset doesn’t make it the epitome of humiliation.

“Embarrassing” is the key word. What makes a sports loss shameful? Let’s dive right into where this game ranks in the top 10 most ignominious sports defeats of all time. Trust me, it’s on the list.

10) 1986 heavyweight title fight, Tyson defeats Spinks

Mike Tyson didn’t just defeat Michael Spinks, he humiliated him. A former gold medal winner and was an undefeated 31-0 at the time, so this was no pushover fight. It was billed as “Once and For All,” supposed to be a historic event. It was, sort of.

Tyson knocked out Spinks in 91 seconds, knocking him down twice – the first two times Spinks had been knocked down in his professional career. The loser landed just two punches in his short time in the ring.

For the richest fight in history at the time – a $20 million purse and $70 million gross – it was a letdown for the ages, and one that doesn’t rank in historical fights, mostly an afterthought thanks to the disaster Spinks put out in the ring. The favorite won, but it’s the manner of victory that puts it on this list. He retired a month later.

9) 2002 World Cup group stage: Senegal 1, France 0

The defending champions France entered the 2002 World Cup on quite a high and with a powerful squad.  With world-class striker Thierry Henry alongside French legend David Trezeguet, along with Patrick Viera and other big names, it was a force to be reckoned with…or so we thought.

Instead, the opening match of the 2002 tournament left a wound that the French never recovered from. A 1-0 loss to World Cup debutantes Senegal proved lethal, as a goal from Lens striker Papa Bouba Diop sunk the French to one of the most shocking World Cup defeats, one they would never recover from as they finished last in Group A and departed in embarrassing style.

It didn’t help that Senegal’s manager at the time was a Frenchman, Bruno Metsu. The day of the victory was declared a national holiday in Senegal.

source:  8) 2003 Big 12 Title game: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7

They were supposed to be the best college football team ever assembled. That’s what everyone said.

12-0 Oklahoma rolled into the Big 12 title game as number 1 in the nation across every poll, and their sights weren’t just set on the Big 12 title game, but history. Except that never happened.

Darren Sproles and company spoiled the party in spectacular fashion. Oklahoma took the lead just 2:19 into the game with a long touchdown run, but it all fell apart from there.  All told, Kansas State plastered 519 offensive yards on the Sooners, and on the other end, Kansas State held the nation’s #1 scoring offense to just that opening touchdown. All told, given the expectations, build up, and margin of victory/defeat, this without a doubt fits the bill for all-time embarrassing defeat.

7) 1980 Winter Olympics hockey semifinal: USA 4, Russia 3 – “Miracle on Ice”

US sports fans have been flooded with the historic and heroic performance by the United States hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, but little is told about the losing side.

Consider the facts surrounding the game. The Soviets had won six of the previous seven gold medals. Vladislav Trektiak was the best goalie in hockey at the time. Boris Mikhailov was one of the game’s best attackmen. Viacheslav Fetisov is a Hall of Fame defenseman. The Soviets and Americans hated each other due to fallout from the Cold War. The Soviets nearly boycotted the Games.

Now consider the facts of the game. Trektiak was pulled after allowing a pair of first period goals. The US pressed the Soviets to the point of panic. The Soviet players never got their silver medals engraved with their names. It was a disaster by all accounts for the favorites.

6) 1996 Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska 62, Florida 24

Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators came in hot, and they came in cocky. They ended up humbled, with Head Ball Coach declaring, “I’m embarrassed that we couldn’t make a game of it.”

The Nebraska Cornhuskers had a 3 points Vegas edge as well as the #1 team in the nation, but many people had the Gators as clear favorites. Danny Wuerffel was a lightning rod. For Florida, the plan was clear: pressure the option, let Wuerffel loose. Neither of those happened. Instead, Tommie Frazier was the one who busted out of the cage, delivering 199 yards on the ground, including “The Run” which took Nebraska just one point shy of 50.

source: AP5) 2004 AL Championship Series: Red Sox 4 games, Yankees 3

One of the greatest comebacks of all-time led the Red Sox past the Yankees on their way towards breaking the 1918 curse and winning their first World Series in 86 years. The Yankees, holding a 3-0 series lead, choked it away and with it the rivalry was renewed.

Dave Roberts’ steal of second base in Game 4 turned the tide permanently towards the Red Sox, and with their 12th inning win the Boston squad dominated the rest of the series like they were starting fresh. Having proven a dominating force in baseball the last two decades, the loss would begin a Yankees fall back to Earth that remains in effect today.

4) 1950 World Cup final: Uruguay 2, Brazil 1

Oh god, they’re going to be on this list twice, aren’t they. Yep, they are.

Before Tuesday, this match was the most painful in the storied history of Brazilian soccer. Known as the “Maracanazo” or the “Blow at the Maracana,” Brazil fell to bitter South American rivals despite being massive favorites.

The Seleção came into the match (which was part of a “final group stage”) on the heels of 7-1 and 6-1 victories over Sweden and Spain. They had all the top players, including Jair, Zizinho, and Moacir Barbosa. Unfortunately, they were stunned, punished for sitting back after scoring the opening goal in the 47th minute.

It was so shocking of a result, and so embarrassing for the host nation, that goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa had a request turned down to commentate on a Brazilian game – in 1993, 43 years after the match. He received one of the Maracana goal posts as a gift for his services to his country in 1963, but he took it home and burned it. To say this result stung the players and fans alike is an understatement.

3) 1999 Open Championship: Jean Van de Velde blows the title on the final hole

One of the most painful results in sports history, golfer Jean Van de Velde rubbished his chance at a first major by choking away the final hole at the British Open. Needing just a double bogey six to claim victory, he shanked a drive, hit a grandstand, traversed knee-high rough, found the beach, and hit into water all on his way to a triple-bogey that would send the match to a three-way playoff. Van de Velde would eventually lose that to Paul Lawrie, a man who was 10 strokes back at the start of play on the final day.

He chose driver off the tee, his first mistake needing such a score to win. He cranked it into the rough, and his second shot caromed off the grandstand and into the thick cut.  The third shot went into the water, and he took a drop for his fourth shot. His fifth found a green-side bunker, and he managed to go up-and-down for a triple-bogey seven from there.

Van de Velde’s collapse was so bad, his name had already been engraved into the Claret Jug. They don’t do that anymore.

2) 2013/14 Ashes series: Australia 5, England 0

Most Americans aren’t in tune with cricket, but much of the world is, and this past Ashes series was an epic disaster for England. The Ashes is a series played on average every four years (it often varies due to the uneven summers of the countries in opposing hemispheres). They play five test matches, and all five are played no matter if one team secures victory in the series before it’s over.

source:  Much of the buildup to this series played into England’s hand. Australia was in a state of transition, having just changed coaches from Mickey Arthur to Darren Lehman.A number of legendary players had recently retired over the past year or two, including Michael Hussey and Rickey Ponting.

England, on the other hand, was a force. They’d won the last Ashes earlier that year (the first time the series had been played twice in the same year) by a 3-0 margin, with Australia just barely avoiding a whitewash thanks to two rain-assisted draws.

Unfortunately for the English, it all went wrong later that year. Australia blasted its way to a 381-run win in the first test at the Gabba, and England never recovered. The Aussies won each Test by at least 150 runs, as bowler Mitchell Johnson ripped through the English lineup of stars including Alistair Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root, and Kevin Pieterson.  In the fifth and final Test, with England looking to avoid a whitewash, they flopped to a 281-run loss that was no contest.

The series has been played since 1882, and there have only been three whitewashes ever, including this one.

1) 2014 World Cup semifinal: Germany 7, Brazil 1

Call me reactionary, fine. This match every necessary ingredient to be considered the most embarrassing sporting event of all time.

It’s not that they lost to a bad team, or even a mediocre team. Germany was favored by many in this match, especially without Neymar or Thiago Silva. The disappointment and humiliation is in the atmosphere and the manner of defeat.  There, it trumps all else.

source: APOn Brazilian soil, with the team looking to avenge the pain of 1950 still lingering throughout, it all went horribly wrong. The concession of four goals in a six-minute span doomed the side, and it led to a shower of tears the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  The Germans sliced open a team clearly not prepared for their opponent and not up to speed on its technical ability and precision passing.

The Brazilian defense leaked worse than it ever has before, and the Germans were ruthless. For all the talk of losing superstar Neymar, the loss of Silva at the back arguably was worse in hindsight, as David Luiz took the captain’s armband and proceeded to stink it up. He lost track of Thomas Muller on the opening goal, and it went downhill from there.

It all led manager Luis Felipe Scolari to dub the match the “worst day of my life.” A Brazilian newspaper gave every player a goose egg 0 for player ratings. ESPN color commentator Steve McManaman declared “this is amateur hour.” It was such a shellacking that German striker Miroslav Klose set the all-time World Cup goalscoring record and the story was a distant afterthought.

Given the turmoil of the country, the expectations placed on the team (realistic or not), and the catastrophic way in which the match unfolded, it’s certainly fair to place this loss as the most embarrassing in sports history.

Honorable Mention:

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series: the Bill Buckner error
2014 Super Bowl: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
2014 World Cup group stage: Netherlands 5, Spain 1
2001 College Basketball: Duke 98, Maryland 96 (OT) – Maryland allows 10 points in final 31 seconds of regulation
1950 World Cup: USA 1, England 0
2011 Premier League: Manchester City 6, Manchester United 1

‘Ravens’ challenge soccer orthodoxy in Belarus

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) Less than three years ago, Alexander Skshinetsky’s soccer career seemed over.

The former under-21 international found himself unemployed after his career stalled, and was working on construction sites when an offer came. Would he consider joining an amateur team that had been playing seven-a-side soccer but now wanted to go pro, founded by a small group of fans staking thousands of dollars of their own money to build a club from scratch?

Two seasons and two promotions later, the 26-year-old midfielder is a key player in one of European soccer’s most unlikely success stories. In only its third professional season, Krumkachy Minsk is playing top-flight soccer, beating established names and challenging the economic orthodoxy in one of Europe’s most closed-off countries.

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Krumkachy – “Ravens” in Belarusian – has soared into the country’s top league with a shoestring budget but an enthusiastic and growing fan base of hipsters, families and others turned off by the stagnation of soccer in the ex-Soviet nation. Before a recent run of losses, it was even challenging for Europa League qualification.

The secret has been finding talented players on the verge of leaving the game, or even those who have already quit, “people who have been underestimated and put down,” in the words of co-founder Denis Shunto, who set up Krumkachy with friends in 2011. “We get those guys and we can really make them into a team.”

After starting out in recreational competitions, Shunto and his friends decided to aim higher. Belarusian soccer has a three-tier league system packed with clubs backed by various government agencies and state-run factories in the country’s Soviet-style economy, a set-up which prefers predictability over ambition and can give rise to conflicts of interest. With a spot open in the third tier, but without a state patron, Krumkachy scraped together a few thousand dollars to apply. Each subsequent step up the pyramid brought predictions of imminent financial collapse.

“Everyone said we wouldn’t have the money, we couldn’t take part,” said Skshinetsky, the midfielder. “We played for free in the second division, and in the first division it wasn’t much. Maybe $100 for a win in the first division and salaries maybe $150 (a month).”

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On a freezing Friday night in Minsk, the crowd was small and the game scrappy. Goalkeeping errors helped to hand Krumkachy a 2-1 win which all but ensured the club’s top-flight survival for 2017 in the Belarusian league’s calendar-year system. Financial survival is always a trickier question.

“We’ve got the smallest budget (in the league) and we’re still putting money in ourselves,” said Shunto, who wonders if the approach of going without government funding may be “too romantic.”

At Friday’s game, commercial tie-ups were prominent and Krumkachy’s shirts were covered in a myriad of small logos from various businesses which have chipped in as sponsors, while opposition Granit Mikashevichi bore only the logo of its backer, a state-run quarry. Consumerism may be the norm in most European leagues, but in Belarus’ state-dominated economy, it’s the mark of the plucky underdog.

After ending a nine-game wait for victory, the players came over to celebrate with the sparse crowd. An hour later, the reserve players were still sharing the field with fans and their children having a kickabout.

“It’s an atmosphere like home, very warm. It’s been helping the guys not to give up,” said Vasily Khomutovsky, one of Krumkachy’s two co-coaches.

At a recent away game, “a woman with two children who went there, with two small kids 7 and 10 years old, she made each player a little souvenir by hand and signed it, something different for each player,” Khomutovsky said.

There’s a family atmosphere within the club, too, with Shunto’s brother serving as a backup goalkeeper and Skshinetsky’s wife in charge of fitness training.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Going to the playoffs edition ]

Vladimir Harlach, one of the team’s supporters, said Krumkachy reminds him of AFC Wimbledon, the English club founded by fans after owners relocated its previous incarnation to another town, and which has since shot up several divisions.

“That’s a bit different, there was history,” Harlach said. “Here, it’s from scratch. History is being written in front of our eyes. You could compare it to other countries 100 years ago, when (soccer) was all being created.”

Krumkachy’s average home attendance of about 1,500 is tiny by European standards, but enough to put it comfortably above all but the biggest clubs in Belarus, as well as higher than that of FC Minsk, the city government-run club whose stadium Krumkachy is using.

Some at the club wonder whether European qualification might be possible next year, another improbable step up, but the top spot in Belarus appears far out of reach. Able to outspend rivals with cash from occasional Champions League appearances, BATE Borisov has just sewn up its 11th straight title.

Khomutovsky welcomes the comparison to Leicester, a team which was promoted to top division in England, survived one season, then won a wildly unlikely title the following year.

“I hope next year,” Khomutovsky said, “we do what we can to become the Belarusian Leicester.”

MLS Cup Playoffs Weds. preview: Toronto, LA host openers

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, right, celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against the New England Revolution during first-half MLS soccer game action in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Here we go, sports fans.

Major League Soccer starts its playoffs with a pair of knockout round games on Wednesday and another two on Thursday.

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Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. ET

The Union are back in the playoffs for just the second time in playoff history, the same amount as Toronto. The difference is that Toronto has made the postseason in back-to-back season and isn’t entering the second season on a brutal cold streak.

Philly has lost three-straight and five of seven, making the playoffs on goal differential and — as Brotherly Game points out — has the lowest points-per-game of a playoff team since 2006.

That’s probably not going to fly at the new, loud BMO Field, where TFC’s supporters will finally get a home playoff match. Sebastian Giovinco is close to full fitness, Jozy Altidore has been on fire, and Michael Bradley isn’t exactly a player who shirks the big game spot light.

But it’s going to be players like Drew Moor and Clint Irwin who keep TFC calm under the bright lights. They’ve been here before. In fact, Moor has actually been at BMO in the playoffs, when Colorado trumped FC Dallas for a 2-1 win at MLS Cup 2010.

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Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy –10:30 p.m. ET

Before the season began, LA looked like it had an embarrassment of riches that could challenge for one of the best records in MLS history. Between Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong, Steven Gerrard, and Gyasi Zardes — let alone the rest of the crew — the Galaxy were terrifying.

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his goal with Giovani dos Santos #10 to take a 4-1 lead over the Orlando City FC at StubHub Center on September 11, 2016 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Dos Santos and Keane (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

About 700 miles northeast was a team expected to do, well, not much. Real Salt Lake had its mainstays in Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, but had the club done enough to make up a 10-point playoff deficit from 2015?

Injuries and defections stopped the Galaxy from reaching its potential, while RSL rode a hot start into the playoffs. Both teams finished their seasons in cold fashion; In Real’s case, ice cold.

The Galaxy only lost one game at the StubHub Center this season, and it’s realistic to think that trend will continue on Wednesday. But there’s something about RSL and the playoffs — and the potential absences of not just Zardes but Keane and Gerrard — that lead us to believe something strange could be coming by the time Thursday morning hits the East Coast.

USMNT’s Zardes nearing return for LA… but not this week

CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 09:  Gyasi Zardes #11 of Los Angeles Galaxy attemps to break away from Leiton Jimenez #30 of Club Tijuana at StubHub Center on February 9, 2016 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
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Gyasi Zardes waits on X-rays, and it’s not just a matter for LA Galaxy concern.

Yes, the MLS side is chasing its sixth Cup and has as many as two playoff matches coming in the next five days.

But Jurgen Klinsmann has regularly called upon the 25-year-old attacker for the United States men’s national team who, in case you haven’t heard, have two of the toughest World Cup qualifiers on their slate in the next few weeks.

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There’s good news and bad news. First, the good, from

Gyasi Zardes, returning from a broken foot this past August, happily took to the field with his teammates in a sign of a potential return in time for the postseason. The offensive favorite spent a little under an hour with the team, not quite completing a full training session, but definitely close to returning to his usual fitness.

Now the less good: Zardes cannot return until his next scheduled X-ray on the aforementioned broken foot.

That X-ray comes next Thursday – well after Wednesday’s game and any weekend matches.

Will a fit Zardes instantly reclaim a spot in Klinsmann’s 23? Wingers have had strong performances in his stead, and the coach’s take on that position is a bit unknown as we anticipate the United States and Mexico in Columbus on Nov. 11.

Juventus CEO: agent to earn $30 million for Pogba transfer

VERONA, ITALY - JANUARY 31:  Paul Pogba of Juventus celebrates the victory after the Serie A match between AC Chievo Verona and Juventus FC at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on January 31, 2016 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta has revealed that Paul Pogba‘s agent will be paid 27 million euros ($30 million) for the player’s record transfer to Manchester United.

Pogba returned to United in August for a world-record fee of $116 million.

Marotta was quoted by Italian media as telling Juventus’ shareholders meeting Tuesday as saying “27 million (euros) will be paid to (Pogba’s) agent Mino Raiola. So the total net gain for Pogba was 72 million ($78 million)” after other fees are taken into account.

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Marotta says that Pogba joined Juve from United in 2012 for a bargain price of 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million).

Marotta adds that Juan Cuadrado‘s two-year loan from Chelsea costs 5 million euros ($5.4 million) per season and if Juventus wins Serie A this season it will be obliged to buy Cuadrado’s full rights for an additional 20 million ($22 million).